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City Announces First Recipients of Storefront Activation Grants

Electric Playhouse, Blue Door Patisserie to use funds to establish new Downtown spaces

Jan. 12, 2022

The City of Albuquerque’s Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency (MRA) has announced the first two recipients of the Storefront Activation Grants to help them activate street-level property in the downtown area. Local small businesses Electric Playhouse and Blue Door Patisserie are planning to use their grants for downtown expansions this year. The two businesses are the first to qualify for funding made available by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to support revitalization and economic recovery in Albuquerque. Grant applications are still being accepted.

“Supporting Albuquerque’s downtown core is not only critical for continued healthy recovery, but also for future growth. An investment in our small businesses is an investment in our entire city,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “We look forward to what these expansions will bring to Downtown as we work together to create a healthy, thriving core.”

Electric Playhouse, which offers immersive entertainment and dining experiences at its west side location, plans to use this funding to establish an administrative headquarters downtown. The business intends to renovate 3,880 square feet of the Occidental Life Building at Third Street and Gold Avenue, including outfitting the building’s unique Gothic Revival façade with interactive art pieces and colorful architectural lighting, and updating the interior office space.

“These improvements will help us return our creative team back to the office as well as attract and expand our workforce,” said Electric Playhouse CEO and co-founder Brandon Garrett. “As an entertainment and technology startup, COVID-19 hit us hard and continues to impact us. This program will help us get back on our feet.”

Blue Door Patisserie, which serves French cuisine in the Sawmill Market near Old Town, is using the grant to establish an additional location at 900 Park Ave. SW. The funds will assist in renovating the interior of the space, creating an attractive storefront, and providing living wages and benefits to staff.

“We’re excited we were selected for this grant and can’t wait to open our second store downtown at this amazing location,” said Blue Door Patisserie owner Jove Hubbard. “We love what’s happening in the Downtown area, and we can’t wait to see it thrive in the coming years.”

Grants of up to $35,000 are being awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until funding is expended. The MRA has $500,000 in ARPA funds to use to support small businesses that occupy vacant street-level property or that expand a current downtown storefront footprint by at least 50 percent. Additional funding in the amount of $5,000 may be available for applicants that demonstrate their business will attract visitors to the Downtown area between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m., at least four days per week. The downtown area is generally defined as the area between Lomas, Coal, and Broadway avenues, and 11th Street.

“These grants are a powerful component in our toolbox of initiatives to foster catalytic change and create opportunities for residents and businesses to thrive,” said MRA manager Karen Iverson. “We encourage local businesses to apply as soon as possible for the Storefront Activation Grants, which will not only support their success but also enable them to contribute to the exciting development underway downtown.”

To qualify for a grant, a business must employ fewer than 250 people; be located in the Downtown District; have executed a lease (or lease amendment) after October 1, 2021, with a term of at least two years for an eligible downtown storefront; and meet other qualifications. Grant funds may be used for expenses that include rent and utilities; inventory; furniture, fixtures, and equipment; employee recruitment, training, and/or compensation; and other business expenses.

More details and an application can be found at cabq.gov/StorefrontGrants. For questions, email [email protected] or call 505-810-7502.